It’s that time of year again. Well, now that the hockey schedule is back to normal.
Christmas time means World Juniors and this year’s tournament features plenty of intrigue for Golden Knights fans. Four VGK prospects are set to represent their countries in the 2023 edition of the IIHF World Junior Championships, and all four should play a big role for their respective teams.
Vegas’ most recent 1st round pick has had a bit of a rocky road since being selected 30th overall in 2021. He took an injury early in Development Camp this summer which left us once again not getting to see much of him in a setting amongst his peers.
However, since he’s returned back to Gatineau he’s doing what you’d hope any 1st round pick would do. Dean has tallied 17 goals and racked up 18 assists in 27 games in the QMJHL and is certainly one of the best players on a pretty good team.
Dean was on the extended roster ahead of the last edition of this tournament but did not make the final roster. Now, he’s expected to play a fairly significant role as a bottom-six forward and penalty killer.
One of the standouts from Development Camp this summer, the 19-year-old crafty winger will be an important offensive option for the Czechs. Brabenec has a knack for the net but is also a stellar passer of the puck. His numbers have slipped a bit this season in Charlottetown but a lot of that likely has to do with the overall strength of the team more so than his play.
Brabenec should play high up the Czech lineup and will be a key piece to the power play.
Also playing for the Czechs is the Golden Knights’ highest pick in the most recent draft. Sapovaliv was excellent in the summer edition of World Juniors and he’s continued that strong play posting a point per game in the OHL this season.
Sapovaliv’s game is much more defensive-minded so points are not always going to come the way he plays. Expect the same in this tournament on a Czech team that has quite a bit of offensive talent. However, Matyas will likely find himself playing many of the tough minutes and taking on some of the hardest matchups. Plus, he’ll likely be a key penalty killer.
Team Czechia takes on Canada in the first game for each team, on December 26th.
Lindbom made Team Sweden’s roster at the last edition of the tournament but didn’t see a second of action. That’s not expected to be the case this time as he heads into the tournament as the presumptive starter. Lindbom has posted excellent numbers this season in Sweden’s 2nd league, HockeyAllsvenskan.
He’s touting a 15-6-0 record with four shutouts, a 1.76 goals against average, and a .936 save percentage. He’s on pace to have one of the best seasons as a U20 in that league’s history.
This will be a new experience for Golden Knights fans as VGK have never had a goalie prospect actually play consistently at World Juniors. A few Golden Knights goalie prospects have made their respective teams but never has one been handed the reigns as the starter to begin the tournament. Lindbom is expected to be between the pipes as Team Sweden open the tournament on December 26th against Austria.